Mathieu da Costa was the first known Black person to arrive in Canada
Mathieu da Costa was a free black interpreter who arrived in Canada in the early 1600s, becoming the first recorded black person in Canadian history. He was critical in facilitating communication between French explorers and Indigenous peoples. It is widely speculated that da Cost learned to communicate with the Indigenous peoples by picking up the dialects from those who entered through African trading ports, as their languages had many similarities.
Born in Lusofonia, Portugal, on March 1, 1589, Mathieu da Costa was believed to have been a freeman fluent in several languages, including French, Portuguese, and several Indigenous languages. Portuguese explorers recruited him to help establish fur trading relations with Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada.
In the early 1600s, Mathieu da Costa accompanied Champlain and Du Gua de Mons, French merchant and colonizer, to Canada. His role was essential in establishing the first French settlement in Canada, as communication between the two groups was crucial to the success of the colony.
Despite his important role, very little is known about Mathieu da Costa’s life, and much of what is known has been pieced together through historical records and documents. However, his legacy lives on as an important symbol of the contributions of Black Canadians to the development of the country.
In 2017, the government of Canada honoured Mathieu da Costa by issuing a stamp in his honour, as part of its annual Black History Month celebrations. The stamp, which features a portrait of Mathieu da Costa and an illustration of the French settlement in Tadoussac, serves as a testament to his significance in Canadian history and contributions to the country.
Mathieu da Costa was a trailblazer in Canadian history, becoming the first recorded black person to arrive in the country and playing a critical role in establishing the first French settlement. His legacy continues to be celebrated by the government of Canada through the issuance of a stamp in his honour. It serves as a reminder of the important contributions of Black Canadians to the country’s development.
Image source, the Canadian Post